Central Coast Wine Classic

16 09 2008

July 10th I had the pleasure of working the Central Coast Wine Classic dinner at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA.  This premiere event has been one of my favorite gigs for years now.  Sommeliers from across California come together in Cambria to work this special event led by Toby Rowland Jones and Seth Kunin, our fearless leaders. 

This year was a bit different though, as our team included many of the brave resident sommeliers from Big Sur, along with Toby who had been fighting the fires for many days.  We were all incredibly grateful that they were alright, but it has been an incredible struggle for them and the community.  Toby received an award from friends and Central Coast Wine Classic Founding Director Archie McLaren and Carissa Chappellet after a photo essay Carissa prepared brought the audience to tears.  I am so honored to know someone so brave as Toby. 

After many heartfelt hugs and love was exchanged, we finished our duties for the night and the post-event festivities continued as normal as we sang karaoke at the Cambria Pines Lodge and had a good old hotel room party well into the night.

The events of the weekend feature wines from the area, but we also had the opportunity to taste some great Italian wines with Sergio Esposito from Italian Wine Merchants in New York, NY which were amazing. 

The Central Coast Wine Classic benefits many local charities.

 Make your reservations now for next year’s Hearst Castle Dinner!  Dinner is always hosted by a “celebrity” chef, this year, Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood, last year Iron Chef Cat Cora!  These chefs are always assisted by Hearst Castle Coordinating Chef, James Sly of Sly’s in Carpinteria, CA.  Further activities abound at the Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa and the Shell Beach Resort.   http://www.centralcoastwineclassic.org/

Marble Pool at Hearst Castle

Marble Pool at Hearst Castle

Staglin Benefit for Mental Health

16 09 2008

This past weekend my husband Michael and I headed up to Napa Valley to work as sommeliers at the Staglin Benefit for Mental Health. It ‘s amazing that it has been about eight years now that we have worked this amazing event, even including the 2001 benefit when many couldn’t get to California due to 9/11.

The event starts with a symposium where some of the nation’s leading professionals discuss progress from last year and what the future holds for mental health research in the coming years followed by an amazing tasting in the Staglin caves of some of California’s most prestigious cult wines. This is a once of a lifetime chance to taste all those bottles that the collectors are hoarding in their cellars, Harlan, Bond, Abreu, Screaming Eagle and tons of the “new guard” cult wines, Gargiulo, Sloan, Scarecrow, etc. Sometimes the least familiar names are those that are the best wines of the tasting! I heard great comments from those that came to my table, I was pouring Sloan.

This incredible tasting was followed by a concert by the Pointer Sisters on the property and then a four course dinner with food prepared by Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant.

Over the past 14 years the Staglins have been able to donate $30 million to mental health research and the most amazing thing is that there are tangible results, their generosity never ceases to amaze me.

I hope you will consider attending next year, or a donation. http://www.music-festival.org/festival_2008.html

Thank you to Shari, Garen, Shannon and Brandon!